Diet and Nutrition

See What You Eat? Foods Have an Important Effect on Your Eyesight

Can what we eat really effect our eyesight? Eye specialists say proper nutrition is actually one of the most important tools to treat and reverse common vision problems. So if you’re worried about dry eyes, blepharitis, cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and even headaches, you’ll be interested in some tasty preventive tips. Dr. Robert Abel Jr, MD, author of the new book, “The Eye Care Revolution (eyecomplexcs.com),” shares with us which nutrients are essential for the care and feeding of our eyes.

“We know that specific foods and nutritional supplements have value in treating specific diseases, and we also now know there are also certain foods and supplements that specifically encourage eye health,” says Dr. Abel, who insists that by using an understanding of nutritional chemistry and other means it is absolutely possible to control or eliminate many of the factors that contribute to the development of serious eye diseases.

“We know that specific foods and nutritional supplements have value in treating specific diseases, and we also now know there are also certain foods and supplements that specifically encourage eye health,” says Dr. Abel

Preserving vision has been Dr. Abel’s mission for over 40 years, since he became an ophthalmologist, and later, Founding Partner in a large eye care practice in Delaware. He holds two patents (on artificial corneas) and multiple industry awards. When it comes to sight, he’s literally seen it all.

“The eye is a biochemical workshop,” Dr. Abel told us when we asked how what we eat and what we see can possibly be related. And then we got him to divulge some of the principle details in his book — like an ideal dietary regimen for someone concerned about preserving or improving eye health.

Dr. Abel’s Top Ten Foods for Sight include:

  • Cold Water Fish (sardines, cod, mackerel, tuna). These are an excellent source of DHA, which provides structural support to cell membranes, and is recommended for dry eyes, macular degeneration, and sight preservation.
  • Spinach, Kale, and Green Leafy Vegetables. These are rich in carotenoids, especially lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein protects the macula from sun damage and from blue light.
  • Eggs are rich in cysteine, sulfur, lecithin, amino acids, and lutein. Sulfur-containing compounds protect the lens of the eye from cataract formation.
  • Garlic, Onions, Shallots, and Capers are also rich in sulfur, which is necessary for the production of glutathione, an important antioxidant for the lens of the eye.
  • Non-GMO Soy, which is low in fat and rich in protein, contains essential fatty acids, phytoestrogens, vitamin E, and natural anti-inflammatory agents.
  • Any fruits and vegetables that contain vitamins A, C, E, and beta-carotene. Dr. Abel especially likes yellow and orange vegetables, like carrots and squash, which are important for daytime vision.
  • Blueberries and Grapes contain anthocyanins, which improve night vision. A cup full of blueberries, huckleberry jam, or a 100 mg bilberry supplement should improve dark adaptation within a mere 30 minutes!
  • Wine, known to have a cardio-protective effect, has many important nutrients, which protect the heart, vision, and blood flow.
  • Nuts and Berries are nature’s most concentrated food sources. Grains, such as flaxseed, are high in the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower cholesterol and stabilize cell membranes.
  • And Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, is a healthy alternative to butter and margarine.

 

Wooden box filled fresh vegetables

 

But how do these foods specifically work to counteract some of our biggest eye problems? Let’s take cataracts, for example, one of the most common eye surgeries. Dr. Abel claims he operates on an average of four hundred cataract patients a year… but he treats six times that number without surgery. According to the Doctor, you can decrease your risk of developing cataracts (by more than half!) by eating fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C, as well as the antioxidants vitamin A, E, lutein, and glutathione boosters.

Safeguarding your sight is protecting one of your most precious gifts… and perhaps your most important sense, according to the Doctor. In short, “the eye is a direct extension of the brain,” he says, and proper nutrition will help them both work better.

Got glaucoma? Lower your risk by consuming high levels of vitamins C, Omega 3, and B12 as well as rhythmic breathing and avoiding blood pressure medications in the evenings. Dr. Abel suggests the risk of developing macular degeneration can be reduced by maintaining high levels of vitamins A, D, E, the carotenoids zeaxanthin and lutein, DHA, and the amino acid taurine (found in egg whites), and Diabetic retinopathy can be delayed or prevented by consuming vitamin C along with alpha lipoic acid, Quercetin, and other bioflavonoids.

In addition to ingesting these best edibles to maintain eye health, drink six eight-ounce glasses of filtered water every day to keep properly hydrated (water helps create the fluid in our eyes), and “while we should depend primarily on whole foods to meet our nutritional needs, [you can] use vitamins and supplements as an insurance policy,” says Dr. Abel.

Safeguarding your sight is protecting one of your most precious gifts… and perhaps your most important sense, according to the Doctor. In short, “the eye is a direct extension of the brain,” he says, and proper nutrition will help them both work better.

“There are 100 times the number of nerve fibers from the eye than the ear; this is one reason most of our memories are stored as visual images. It is therefore not surprising that 40 percent of the brain is devoted to input from the eyes. In my book, ‘The Eye Care Revolution,’ I underscore the fact that 80 percent of our sensory connection to the world is visual.”

So see the light… and hope it looks scrumptious!

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Kate Michael

Kate Michael

Kate Michael is a Writer, Event Emcee, On-Camera Host and Fashion/Commercial Model. Follow on Twitter @kstreetkate